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[156] Whether the army would be prepared to move upon the Bay on the 18th of March depended upon the state of readiness of the transports, the entire control of which had been placed by the Secretary of War in the hands of one of the assistant secretaries. Unless his arrangements had been completed on or before that day, the army could not have moved.

But the record of the important events of the 8th of March is not completed; for on that day the Merrimac appeared in Hampton Roads and destroyed the Cumberland and Congress, and the news, flashed far and wide by the telegraph-wires, filled the whole land with consternation and dismay. But our spirits rose the next day at the opportune arrival and gallant and successful achievement of the Monitor. It is needless to dwell upon the memorable contest between these two vessels, so important in its effects upon the whole science of naval warfare; but it was an event of no inconsiderable moment in the fate and fortunes of the Peninsular campaign. The power of the Monitor had been so satisfactorily demonstrated, and the other naval preparations were so extensive and formidable, that the security of Fortress Monroe as a base of operations was placed beyond a doubt; but, on the other hand, the presence of the Merrimac in the James River closed that river to us, and threw us upon the York River, with its tributaries, as our only line of water-communication with the fortress. The general plan, therefore, remained undisturbed,

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